Translated by Fray Hubert Dunstan Decena, OAR
A. Invoking the Holy Spirit
We invoke the Holy Spirit using the words of St. Augustine.
Come, Holy Spirit, by whom every devout soul, who believes in Christ is sanctified to become a citizen of the City of God! (en. Ps 45:8) Come, Holy Spirit, grant that we receive the motions of God, put in us your flame, enlighten us and raise us up to God. (s. 128,4) Amen.
With hearts well disposed, with serenity, read slowly the following words, savoring them and allowing yourself to be touched by them.
On that day, Jesus went out of the house and sat down by the sea. Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat down, and the whole crowd stood along the shore. And he spoke to them at length in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. As he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky ground , where it had little soil. It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep, and when the sun rose it was scorched, and it withered for lack of roots. Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it. But some seed fell on rich soil and produced fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold. Whoev3er has ears ought to hear.”
The disciples approached him and said, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” He said to them in reply, “Because knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven has been granted to you, but to them it has not been granted. To anyone who has, more will be granted and he will grow rich; from anyone who has not, even what he has will be taken away. This is why I speak to them in parables, because ‘they look and do not see and hear and do not understand.’ Isaiah’s prophecy is fulfilled in them, which says: “You shall indeed hear but not understand, you shall indeed look but never see. Gross is the heart of this people, they will hardly hear with their ears, they have closed their eyes, lest they see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and be converted, and I heal them.”
“But blessed are your eyes, because they see, and your ears, because they hear. Amen, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.”
“Hear then the parable of the sower. The seed sown on the path is the one who hears the word of the kingdom without understanding it, and the evil one comes and steals away what was sown in his heart. The seed sown on the rocky ground is the one who hears the word and receives it at once with joy. But he has no root and lasts only a time. When some tribulation or persecution comes because of the word, he immediately falls away. The seed sown among thorns is the one who hears the word, but then worldly anxiety and the lure of riches choke the word and it bears no fruit. But the seed sown on rich soil is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold,”
Let us now meditate with the commentary of St. Augustine on these words of the Gospel according to St. Matthew.
“Pay attention, dear brother, to see how I go proving by the Scriptures. When the Lord said that the sower went out to sow, and the one part fell in the foot path, another part in rocky ground, and another among thorns, he himself deigned to explain the parable. And when he arrived at the part of the rocky ground, he said thus: These are those who hear the word and upon hearing it, they were happy for a moment; but upon suffering tribulation because of the word, they are at once scandalized. What did he say about those that sprouted among rocks? That when the sun came out they withered, since its roots were not deep. Thus it is, they are those who for a short time were happy because of the word they heard, but when persecution comes because of the word, they wither. Why do they wither? Because they do not have consistent root. What is the root? Charity. Thus says the Apostle: Be rooted and founded on charity. Thus, just as the root of all evil is avarice, so also the root of all good is charity. You know this and I repeat it frequently; but why do I want to remind you of it right now? In order that you may better under- stand the text of the Psalm and you may know that upon talking about the midday devil, it is the furious harassment of persecution. The Lord says: The sun arose and the plant withered, for lack of root. And upon explaining why the plant withered under the sun, he said that when persecution is unleashed, they do not persevere because its root is not deep. Here the midday devil is understood as a strong persecution” (en. Ps. 90:2, 8).
To you is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but not to them. He who has shall be given. Who has so that it is given to him except he to whom it has been given? On the other hand, he who has not, even what he has will be taken away. Well then, who is he that has nothing except he to whom nothing has been given? Why is it then that to one something is given and to the other no? I do not fear to say it: This is the depth of the cross. I know not the depth of God’s judgment, we cannot scrutinize it nor contemplate it, we proceed the best we can. I see what I can but not from where this ability comes, except up to what I come to see at present: I know that this is a gift from God. But why to this one yes, and to that one no? It is too much for me, it is an abyss, it is the depth of the cross” (s. 165, 5).
With the text, let us now pray from the depths of our heart. I suggest the following phrases and questions that can awaken in you dialogue with God, and at the same time can give rise to affections and sentiments in your dialogue with God. Do not move to the next phrase or question if you can still continue dialoguing with God in one of them. It is not a matter of exhausting the list, but of helping you to pray with some points that better fit your personal experience.
a. “Why do they wither? Because they do not have consistent root. What is the root? Charity” (en. Ps. 90, 2,8).
- What is the root of your life?
- What foundation has the word of God found in you?
b. Why is it that to one it is given and to the other no? I do not fear to say it: this is the depth of the cross” (s. 165, 5).
- How do you confront the mysteries of God’ plan?
- How do you receive the gifts God gives you?
c. Pray with this phrase: “Lord, make my heart a good soil.”
I propose to you some points for affective interior contemplation. Once again, you need not follow all of it, rather you can choose what fits your personal experience.
a. Contemplate how the seed of God’s word has fallen into your heart. Contemplate how it grows. Seek to give it space in your interior and allow it to fully develop in you. Contemplate how it grows and becomes strong in your interior. Contemplate and thank God for the gift.
b. Contemplate how Christ removes the brambles of inordinate aspirations and desires from your heart. Contemplate how Christ removes the stones of your sins, that impede the word of God from taking roots; and finally contemplate how Christ puts his own seed, the seed of his word, in your heart. Contemplate how this seed grows and develops. Give thanks to God and contemplate what you have to remove from your life to let the word of God flourish. Contemplate and ask for the grace.
Think of everything that you can share with those around you about the experience you had with God, especially about allowing the word of God to grow and develop in your heart to bear much fruit. The following points can help you to share with your community the experience of the lectio divina on this text.
- What have I discovered about God and about myself in this moment of prayer?
- How can I apply this text of Scripture at this moment of my life? What light does it give me? What challenges does it put before me?
- What concrete commitment does this text of Scripture ask of me in my spiritual life, in my community life?
- What has been my dominant sentiment during this moment of prayer?
Final Prayer of St. Augustine
Turning towards the Lord: Lord God, Father Almighty, with pure heart, as far as our littleness permits, allow us to give you our most devoted and sincere thanks, begging with all our strength from your particular goodness, that you deign to hear our petitions according to your good will, that by your power you may drive away the enemy from all our thoughts and actions; that you increase our faith, govern our mind and give us spiritual thoughts and bring us to your happiness through your Son Jesus Christ, our Lord, who with you lives and reigns in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen (en. Ps. 150:8).
“In this life let us sow in tears. But what shall we sow? Good works. The works of mercy are our seeds” (en. Ps. 125, 11).